Omdahl: Confession of a reformed chauvinist
Columnist Lloyd Omdahl writes, "a significant number of churches have continued to demean women and honor men, giving their misogyny the cover of religion."
Yes, It's true. I have been a male chauvinist most of my adult life. I grew up in a family where the dad was a poster guy for chauvinism, no questions asked and no answers given. He never touched us but he had an air of authority that we never questioned.
Not only did I get chauvinism at home but I also got it in church. When I was young, just about every church taught men that they were the head of the family and taught women that they were merely "complimentarian."
So chauvinism was the norm and I had no reason to be abnormal. In fact, I taught the New Testament for 50 years verse-by- verse as a good literalist without being influenced by Bible truth about equality.
Then when I entered the office of lieutenant governor, I received congratulatory cards from former students. Among them was Nancy Jo Albers from Mandan who made some remarks I couldn't accept so I responded with a defense of civil government. It was the beginning of a 30-year exchange of views on every world crisis.
As a Catholic, Nancy kept bringing up the misogyny in the Catholic Church. She couldn't understand why brothers could serve on the alter but girls were excluded. That in itself would be crushing to another human being who was created equally in the image of God.
Because I was a writer, Nancy thought I should write something to argue for the ordination of women in the priesthood.
Not being Catholic, I read extensively about the equality of women to build a case. It was the beginning of the end of my chauvinism.
We did a 36-page brief offering a comprehensive argument for equality of women and sent it to the 200 U.S. Catholic Bishops. It was the charge of the light brigade. No reaction. It was apparent that the Church was not interested in change.
Over the last 50 years, women have made great progress lifting the gender curse off of their shoulders in secular society. Not only were they finally admitted to professional schools but they soon became leaders in corporations, medicine, science, universities, public offices, society, publishing and other professions.
Meanwhile, a significant number of churches have continued to demean women and honor men, giving their misogyny the cover of religion.
In the first place, the all-male Catholic Church has no basis in Scripture. The New Testament does not provide for any kind of priesthood, let alone an all-male clergy from top to bottom.
Some Protestant churches, mostly evangelical, justify misogyny with a thin string of random verses to which they cling when they know that women were an important part of Apostle Paul's ministry.
With rare exceptions, Christian churches have been on a rapid decline since the turn of the century. Women have already proved that they can do everything in churches that men can do. The same is true in the secular world.
Chauvinism is strangling both churches and secular society so it's time for men to acknowledge the God-given equality to women.
Omdahl is a former N.D. lieutenant governor and retired University of North Dakota political science teacher. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.